Prince Amaury de Merode was born into one of the most distinguished princely houses of the Belgian nobility in 1902. He began his career by joining the army in 1930 and became an Officer of the First Guides Regiment. At the end of May 1940 he was taken prisoner and transported to Germany.
He later became a member of the Board of the Royal Automobile Club de Belgique in 1952 and was elected president three years later. He played an active part in perfecting the RACB breakdown service and in organising RACB sporting events.
In 1959, he became a member of the FIA Executive Committee and was then named Vice-President of the federation later that year. When Prince de Merode was eventually elected President of the FIA by unanimous vote in 1971, he had already stood for election twice and had presided over the FIA finance committee for five years. He was also Vice-President of the World Touring and Automobile Organisation (OTA).
As Grand Marshal at the Belgian Royal Court, he was well known throughout Europe but did not travel extensively on FIA matters. He did, however, apply himself to the defence of the motorist, both nationally and internationally, and the problems of traffic management. Jacques Sarrut, who began working at the FIA in 1971 and was to become Secretary-General, described Prince de Merode as ‘a perfect gentleman of the old style’.
Towards the end of his three-year term as President, De Merode announced that he would prefer not to run for a second term as he felt he should pass on the presidency to someone younger. However, at the 1974 General Assembly, he was persuaded to continue for one more year. Stability was needed at a particularly difficult time when an oil crisis affected much of the industrialised world and the members of the FIA felt that the 72-year old Prince offered reassurance and safety.
Prince Amaury de Merode was married to Princess Marie-Claire de Croy (1907-2000) and had three children. He died in 1980.